Zero Trust, the cybersecurity model that is changing…
Over the past two years, organizations around the world have adapted to new ways of working, accustomed to terms like telecommuting, remote work, or hybrid, and become more proficient with technology. During the pandemic, this type of work has created some opportunities for workers and employers; but it also presented a challenge due to the cyber risks associated with remote work.
These risks include cyber attacks. Cyber criminals focused their strategies on attacking organizations that were not ready to face the digital world and its consequences.
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The most common targets that facilitate cybercrime are:
- Remote workers using potentially unsafe laptops, mobile devices, networks and smart home devices.
- VPN (Virtual Private Network) and other unpatched software running on home systems.
- Computers with a poorly configured Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection that can be easily compromised using previously stolen or easily cracked passwords.
- Cloud services with weak access controls.
An innovative ecosystem
Since 2009, there has been an ecosystem called ZeroTrust, which is becoming increasingly relevant in this global teleworking scenario. The focus is on the critical data or business processes that need to be protected; Most importantly, it’s the effective way to mitigate risk in a hybrid work environment where perimeters are fluid, employees are distributed and need to continually authenticate, and networks are segmented to reduce the potential for threat proliferation.
Situations like these make it necessary to always adhere to the zero-trust security premise, or “never trust. Always verify.” This explains Marielos Rosa, Operations Manager of ESET Central America, who adds that “unlike the perimeter security model, which has a premise of ‘trust and verify’, Zero Trust is based on the idea that organizations should never trust by default no internal or external entity entering its scope. This model offers an increasingly popular option for mitigating cyber risk in a world shaped by hybrid cloud, remote working, and multiple threat actors.”
According to ESET Latin America, there are three implicit principles in practice to minimize the impact of data breaches:
- All networks should be treated as untrusted: if no network is trusted, users are not trusted either. Finally, there is no guarantee that an account has not been hijacked or that a user is not a malicious actor within the organization. That means giving employees just enough privileges to get the job done, then periodically reviewing access permissions and removing those that are no longer appropriate.
- Minimum Permissions: This should include home networks, public Wi-Fi networks (e.g. in airports and coffee shops), and even local corporate networks. Cyber criminals are too determined to assume safe places still exist.
- Embrace the Breach: News of a new security breach is reported every day. By maintaining their vigilance, organizations will be vigilant and continue to bolster their defenses with the resilient mindset that Zero Trust proposes. Breaches are inevitable, it’s about minimizing their impact.
The pandemic also revealed that in many cases, VPN solutions were unable to support large numbers of remote workers. They are increasingly a target in their own right, especially if left outdated and unprotected.
The pandemic also revealed that in many cases, VPN solutions were unable to support large numbers of remote workers. They are increasingly a target in their own right, especially if left outdated and unprotected. This is shown by data from the special section on COVID-19 included in the most recent national household survey.
(Enaho) conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) in July this year. Of the 296,079 people with Telecommuting in Costa Rica, 83.6% began using this modality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Enaho. The other workers (16.4%) had already used it before the health emergency.
Faced with this panorama, any organization must consider these three aspects to implement the Zero Trust model:
1. Visibility: It is necessary to identify and monitor the devices and assets to be protected. It’s not possible to protect a resource that we don’t know exists, so it’s important to make visible all resources that the organization owns or has access to.
2. Guidelines: Controls must be implemented that allow only specific people access to specific entities and conditions. This means careful controls are required.
3. Automation: The automation of processes ensures the correct application of policies and enables the quick application of measures against possible deviations.
With a zero-trust environment, not only does the organization’s security teams have control and awareness of all data at all times, but in the event of a breach, they can identify exactly when and from where data was stolen or compromised, helping to provide rapid responsiveness.